Aimee Mackin joins the Dees and her sister

June 14, 2023 by
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Aimee Mackin’s recruitment continues the proud association between Ireland and the Dees

Liam Chambers

Aimee Mackin holding her Melbourne Demons AFLW guernsey

Aimee Mackin joins her sister Blaithin at Melbourne for the 2023 season. Aimee also plays Gaelic Football and has been a pivotal player and prolific points scorer for Armagh. Her 3-3 tally against Laois in the Lidl National League Division 2 final at Croke Park on April 15, helped her club win promotion to the top division. In addition, she received The Croke Park/LGFA Player of the Month award for April 2023. She also scored nine points against Donegal in the recent opening game of the campaign to defend their Ulster Football Championship title.

Aimee has previously been awarded 2020’s TG4 Senior Player’s Player of the Year. Similar to the Australian experience, women’s sporting codes in Ireland have been steadily gaining in popularity, especially over the past decade. 

Aimee is a dual code athlete, having previously played association football (soccer) where she starred for the Women’s Premiership club Newry City, scoring the last minute winner to secure the Women’s Premier League in 2015. She has also represented the Northern Ireland women’s national football team at both youth and senior level.

She’ll be a great asset to the Demons in our forthcoming season where we’ll be defending our Premiership title. It’ll be exciting to see how Aimee’s Gaelic football scoring abilities will translate to Aussie Rules. Her inclusion will add another dynamic to an already strong and talented side.

Blaithin Mackin played an important role in our successful 2022 season, kicking the opening goal in the Grand final victory over Brisbane. Playing alongside her sister, with Aimee also in a forward position, will certainly strengthen our squad. With Sinead McGoldrick the other Hibernian in the side, the Irish are well represented in 2023.

Aimee Mackin in action playing Gaelic football
Sisters Aimee and Blaithin Mackin

Continuing the tradition

Over the last few decades, many Irish players have come to Australia to play AFL, most notably Jim Stynes*, whose 264 games for the Demons was hugely influential; winning the Brownlow in 1991. Post retirement he was heavily involved in recruiting Irish players to relocate to Australian clubs. The campaign has continued to be successful, expanding to the include the AFLW.
With the inauguration of the International Rules game in 1984, both countries codes were elevated in the public’s consciousness. I remember the 1986 series where the Australians played three games in Ireland. The Irish won that series 2-1 but not before some memorable on field punch ups. I particularly recall Jack O’Shea running the entire length of the ground to join in one encounter; fearing he would miss out on some of the action. Different era.

At that time National television in Ireland used to show highlights of AFL games on a Saturday afternoon. It was interesting if a little strange for the uninitiated. The similarities to Gaelic football were obvious but a bit confusing as well. The rugby style football and the players’ uniforms stood out. Not so much the short shorts (you only have to look at the 1970s, early 80s soccer players for comparison). It was the sleeveless shirts that were most significant. It gave the game a sort of quintessentially Australian vibe combined with a healthy lack of respect for authority.
Interestingly the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) looked at the Australian game and allegedly used their rules as a template when setting up the Gaelic football game. Although Gaelic Football in Ireland has been played in some form since the early fourteen century (possibly earlier), it was only with the setting up of the Gaelic Associations in the 1880s that the modern game was established. This coincided with a growing interest in the Irish language and the arts as a counterweight to British cultural influence.

The Irish and Australians have much in common, not least the number of Aussies who can claim Irish ancestry, and there’s long been a mutual affection between the two nations. It is this tradition that we welcome Aimee Mackin to our shores and our club and long may she enjoy Australian hospitality.

*editors footnote to Jim. EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin has a feature on Jim and his influence in Australia. I thoroughly recommend it, and in a wonderful quirk of fate a week after visiting in 2018 I inadvertently sat beside an Irish pair at the MCG final against Geelong. That pair turned out to be Jim’s brother David and sister Dearbhla.


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